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kdavid

Integrity of The Cambridge History of China (中文版)

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kdavid

Granted I pass the HSK and get the CSC scholarship, I'll be enrolling in the MA program for Modern History at HIT here in Harbin.

I'd like to have a set of authoritative history books for research and reference. I was considering the English version of The Cambridge History of China Set, but that appears to hold a price tag of a couple thousand dollars.

Upon further thinking, I decided that if I'm going be doing an MA (and possibly PhD) in Chinese history, all in Chinese, I might as well start reading everything in Chinese, which led me to this: 剑桥中国史 (全十一卷)

Upon doing a bit of research, I found the following comments on the Chinese web about these books:

百科 search

http://baike.baidu.com/view/942548.htm

但是,由于文化传统的差异,以及对历史事件有亲历者和旁观者的差异,特别是世界观和方法论的差异,该书中有些重要观点和分析评析有着根本的分歧,一些错 误的看法是不接受的。费正清的的确确是一个严肃的学者。他对美国的中国学研究作出过重要的贡献。特别是他开拓了研究近现代中国的新领域,倡导用中国的原始 文献来研究近现代中国,给美国乃至西方的整个中国学界产生过重大影响。他的研究工作也在一定程度上影响着美国的对华政策。不可否认,费正清所做出的种种努 力都是为了要了解并改善中美之间存在的文化冲突。 他不遗余力地主张用经济、政治和文化的竞争来取代军事上的敌视和对抗,并希望这两个国家和它们所代表的文化能够共存。在他看来,在影响中美关系的种种因素 中,关键是:中美两国所具有的完全不同的文化传统和价值观念。通过由他主编的“剑桥中国史系列”可以了解美国的中国学研究的水平,同时也从另一个侧面进一 步认识中国的历史。

Amazon.cn review on the 1912 – 1949 volumes

http://www.amazon.cn/mn/detailApp/ref=sr_1_11/475-2590056-9835762?_encoding=UTF8&s=books&qid=1289793435&asin=B00116UCLE&sr=1-11

#1

我无意评论本书的观点和所采用史料的质量. 但是单从学术著作的翻译角度来说, 此书的译者是不胜任的, 或者说是不负责任的. 全书充斥着数不胜数的错译, 漏译, 和毫无根据的臆想. 若你有幸将译文和原文对照来看, 你就会发现译者常常将原文的意思弄颠倒, 或者随意更改原文的标点符号. 结果不仅是文不达意, 而且经常是中文语法错误连连. 我无法想象这样的垃圾是如何被允许出版的. 难道堂堂中国竟然找不到合格的英文翻译吗?

#2

剑桥史系列非常棒,但禁不住河蟹的功力。我建议大家读剑桥古代史就好了,至于中华民国史和中华人民共和国史,暂不推荐看。其中必然很多歪曲漏译,一本好的历史书经河蟹一加工就成了秽史

My questions:

1. Can I expect the same degree of historical competence and scholasticism of this translation as I would the English? In other words, do I have to worry about the translators changing and obscuring facts and adding their own biases, or can I count on this being a pure translation of the original historians?

2. Would it be better for me to just fork out the cash for the original English copies? Based on the comments cited above, it seems that the integrity of these books may be an issue.

Lastly, who are some Chinese historians of modern Chinese history who are reliable for writing history as it was instead of how the CCP would like it to be? I've seen some texts, but those I've seen seem to all be published by historians based in Hong Kong or Taiwan, and as a result the texts have been in traditional characters. I need texts in simplified.

Anyone who can share their personal experience with modern Chinese scholasticism (written in Chinese), especially regarding China’s modern and contemporary history, would be greatly appreciated. I’d like to ensure that I purchase books which won’t be chock full of “information” that I’ll need to second guess all the time.

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hbuchtel

《东亚三国的近现代史》

I learned about this book from this forum, but just now I couldn't find a particular topic devoted to it (?). It is notable for being 'non-nationalistic'.

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gato

Most Chinese translation of foreign books are pretty sloppy nowadays -- the translation problems will be fairly obvious if you compare the English with the Chinese side by side -- but it'll might still be worth reading if you are not too picky and good value for your money. But I tend to prefer books that are written originally in Chinese because of the sloppiness of translations.

Lastly, who are some Chinese historians of modern Chinese history who are reliable for writing history as it was instead of how the CCP would like it to be? I've seen some texts, but those I've seen seem to all be published by historians based in Hong Kong or Taiwan, and as a result the texts have been in traditional characters. I need texts in simplified.

Have you seen these recommendations from Yang Kuisong (杨奎松) yet? I think I mentioned him before. He's a scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences specializing in 1920-1950 period.

http://www.yangkuisong.net/blog/000273.htm

本科生推荐阅读书目

http://www.yangkuisong.net/blog/000294.htm

现代史硕士生推荐阅读书目

http://www.yangkuisong.net/blog/000295.htm

现代史博士生推荐阅读书目

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skylee
《东亚三国的近现代史》

Modern History of the Three East-Asian Countries 東亞三國的近現代史

You couldn't find the thread probably because the title was in traditional characters.

PS - to the OP, wouldn't it be better if you get yourself familiar with reading traditional Chinese if what you study is history? I am very ignorant about these things so please forgive me if this is a stupid question.

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Yang Rui

I agree with Skylee that now is the time to learn traditional characters. It's hard at first, but rapidly gets easier and opens up a whole new world of Chinese literature and thought. The effort-to-gain ratio is very favourable. I will never forget my first visit to the Eslite book shop in Taiwan, and realising that there was so much more out there than I had read before, including novels by mainland authors that weren't published in mainland China. I almost cried.

If it was me, I wouldn't bother with the Chinese version of the Cambridge History - no real hard evidence to go on, but I just wouldn't trust it because I knew a lot of people in publishing in China and they were all quite jaded and cynical about this sort of thing. Of course you'll always get people online who rip apart translations, but in this case, I guess they are probably right.

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Mugi
I need texts in simplified

I did a double take when I read this line - I can't believe you're considering doing an MA (and possibly PhD) in Chinese history without being able to read both simplified and traditional...

I think you'll find that there isn't a scholar of Chinese history employed at any university in the world who can't read both. Hence, I have to agree with skylee and Yang Rui - now's a good time to pick up traditional, and as Yang Rui has said, it's not actually that difficult. You'll be pleasantly surprised!

As for reading works in the original or in translation, it should go without saying that you should always read something in the original if you are able. Something ALWAYS gets lost in translation (and sometimes gets added!). Even if you do your degree in Chinese, you'll probably have to reference non-Chinese sources (depending on your area of speciality), and you'll be expected to use original sources as much as possible. Of course, there's no harm in having more than one language version, if your pocket could afford it. But if you have to choose one, I would always go with the original!

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kdavid

Point taken by all of those suggesting traditional characters. I guess I'll start on this.

It feels a bit silly that I'll have to revisit / input all of my vocabulary lists from when I started learning to now.

Better now than never....

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Mugi
It feels a bit silly that I'll have to revisit / input all of my vocabulary lists from when I started learning to now.

Don't make it more difficult than it needs to be - you just have to learn to recognize the traditional characters that you don't currently know and map them to the simplified ones that you do. If you have a good grasp of Chinese, you'll know most of the "words" already, just not recognize a component of the word. You should be able to take an educated guess at the vast majority of "unrecognized" characters simply from context.

I never sat down and actually "learned" traditional characters - just picked them up along the way. If you can't work out a character, look it up. Chances are it'll appear again a few lines later, and by the time you've seen it five times in the space of a few minutes, you probably won't have to ever look it up again. Learning how to write the buggers takes a bit more effort, but learning how to read them should be a piece of cake!

If it were me, I wouldn't bother updating my vocab lists to account for all the traditional renderings. I would probably add the traditional forms next to the simplified ones for all new words (especially where visually the two forms look quite different), and possibly update older entries that I find I've had to look up repeatedly because I can't remember the word when I see it in traditional form, but I wouldn't systematically go through and modify the lists in their entirety.

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kdavid

@ roddy

Thanks for the link. That's very helpful.

@ Mugi

You're right. In fact, I've started teaching myself classical Chinese as well--again, another aspect of the language I've got to pick up sooner or later. When I purchased Michael Fuller's introduction, I didn't realize it was all in traditional characters. I've actually already started a vocab list of characters I can't immediately pick up out of context.

I also like the idea of just doing a "from here on out" approach, which will be much more realistic than going back and re-learning all of the traditional equivalents.

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kdavid
Have you seen these recommendations from Yang Kuisong (杨奎松) yet? I think I mentioned him before. He's a scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences specializing in 1920-1950 period.

http://www.yangkuiso...blog/000273.htm

本科生推荐阅读书目

http://www.yangkuiso...blog/000294.htm

现代史硕士生推荐阅读书目

http://www.yangkuiso...blog/000295.htm

现代史博士生推荐阅读书目

I remember visiting these links before. However, they all seem to be dead now? I turned on my VPN as well and I still can't access them.

I found the lists on some other pages here:

http://www.duhaha.com/article1173283.aspx

本科生推荐阅读书目

http://book.douban.com/doulist/571755/?start=50

现代史硕士生推荐阅读书目

http://www.douban.com/group/topic/12065388/

现代史博士生推荐阅读书目

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amandagmu

Is there a reason you're choosing to only read in Chinese? If so, you're missing a lot of good books. I'm doing a PhD in modern Chinese history myself; passed the qualifying exams in September after three years of research, reading, writing, seminars, etc. I could offer advice on books if you were a bit more clear on what you're interested in -- is there a particular aspect you would like to study?

We often assign Spence (a bit boring and outdated IMO, http://www.amazon.com/Search-Modern-China-Second/dp/0393973514/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1290061517&sr=1-1), Zarrow (http://www.amazon.com/China-Revolution-1895-1949-Asias-Transformations/dp/0415364485/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1290061447&sr=8-1), and/or Schoppa (http://www.amazon.com/Revolution-Its-Past-Indentities-Chinese/dp/0131930397/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1290061470&sr=1-1) to upper division students in modern Chinese history (at the undergrad level). The books are quite useful primers for mid-19th and 20th century history of China. The Cambridge histories serve as good referential texts that professors use when writing lecture materials, but I would argue few people use them as the basis for anything beyond supplemental at this point. They tend to be filled with "facts" that have little textual discussion of sources and various (sometimes contradictory) historical arguments---the texts by Zarrow and Schoppa particularly excel at offering updated research and offer different points of view or nuances on nearly every topic. Also, I just finished reading a well-written and concise book on Mao, China, and the 20th century world, written by Rebecca Karl (http://www.amazon.com/Mao-Zedong-China-Twentieth-Century-World/dp/0822347954/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1290061646&sr=1-1) that I would highly recommend because it's scholarly and does not take a hard pro/anti-Mao or pro/anti-China stance, and unlike many scholarly books it was written for the average interested reader rather than some obscure audience of scholars. In fact, I plan to assign it to senior level students in the future as a primer on Mao, Maoism, socialism, and the development of 20th century China.

Also, if you want to pursue an MA or PhD, you should be reading this blog, written by and for academic scholars in the field. http://www.thechinabeat.org/

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gato
Also, I just finished reading a well-written and concise book on Mao, China, and the 20th century world, written by Rebecca Karl (http://www.amazon.co...90061646&sr=1-1) that I would highly recommend because it's scholarly and does not take a hard pro/anti-Mao or pro/anti-China stance, and unlike many scholarly books it was written for the average interested reader rather than some obscure audience of scholars. In fact, I plan to assign it to senior level students in the future as a primer on Mao, Maoism, socialism, and the development of 20th.

Slightly off-topic, but I see from her books on Amazon that she's a co-author with 汪晖 (Wang Hui), a leading "New Leftist".

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&sort=relevancerank&search-alias=books&field-author=Rebecca%20E.%20Karl

China's New Order: Society, Politics, and Economy in Transition by Hui Wang, Theodore Huters, and Rebecca E. Karl (Paperback - Apr 30, 2006)

Given what I've read of Mao's own writings and of course his purge of his fellow Communists, he's really on the level of a Stalin if not Hitler. Writing a balanced book about Mao is like writing a balanced book on Stalin or Hitler.

And I don't know why Mao's battle with Chiang is often cast as anti-colonialism by his supporters. Chiang was just as much a socialist as Mao (just look at how Taiwan developed under him, and his son even married Russian). If anything, their battle was more like that between the Mensheviks and Bolsheviks in Russia, a battle between two socialist factions.

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kdavid
Is there a reason you're choosing to only read in Chinese?

I'm open to reading texts in English as well. I'm mostly interested in favoring Chinese, though, as a means to further my reading skills

I could offer advice on books if you were a bit more clear on what you're interested in -- is there a particular aspect you would like to study?

I'm primarily interested in:

A. The intellectual history of China

B. Modern intellectual history

C. Western ideas (philosophies) and how they've been interpreted / changed by the Chinese

D. Modern economic history

I'm preparing a study plan for the CSC scholarship, and I'm thinking about proposing my thesis as a history of Chinese communism / the "Chinese model".

We often assign Spence (a bit boring and outdated IMO

I've read the Search for Modern China. What about that/him makes you say it's outdated?

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gato
A. The intellectual history of China

B. Modern intellectual history

Try 韦政通, who's Taiwan-based philosophy scholar. I've recommended him here before:

http://www.chinese-forums.com/index.php?/topic/23657-chinese-philosophy-introduction/

Chinese Philosophy Introduction

You can find other books by him on most of the online bookstores:

http://search.dangdang.com/search_pub.php?key=%CE%A4%D5%FE%CD%A8

韦政通

(As an aside, I've noticed from a number of places that there's a rivalry of sorts between ethnic-Chinese Chinese historians and non-ethnic-Chinese Chinese historians. It'd be good not to get caught up in that. It seems to be a sensitive issue, and probably not just in history, but in other disciplines involving Chinese, too.)

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amandagmu

Well, the Spence is outdated, that's all. There's been a lot of research on the late 19th-20th century since Spence wrote the first edition of the book in 1990 and the second edition only updates a few things (1999).

gato is right that there are a lot of differences between the various historians/groups of historians. For one, the very term "Chinese"/"China" becomes a problem since the assignment of these terms to specific areas and groups of people (and "culture" to use an extremely vague term) stemmed largely from intellectual historians constructing the modern nation-state at the turn of the 20th century. For example, definitions of who was a "Manchu" and who was a "Han" was not clear, it had to be defined by early revolutionaries/late reformers/whatever you want to call them (see Edward Rhoads, Manchus and Hans, a book written after 2000).

Also, I don't disagree that it's difficult to write a book about Mao or Chiang or any of these topics. I am recommending Karl's book precisely because I think she is closest to neutral that I have seen ever. Of course she has her own agenda on some accounts (what's wrong with knowing Wang Hui? a lot of academics speak to one another), but this book does not have a strong political bent, which is far more than I can say for the Chang and Halliday book (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mao:_The_Unknown_Story#Criticism). I can also tell you that Karl's first book (Staging the World) is a good (but difficult to read at times) intellectual history of China, focusing largely on Liang Qichao (also check out Tang Xiaobing's book on Liang, written I think in 1996). More to the point, some of her theoretical basis in that book has seriously influenced the China field since then--to be more precise without getting into too much detail, she argues that intellectuals constructing the new China/Chinese state envisioned the transformation of the dynastic empire/state into a modern nation-state through their experiences and interactions abroad or in contact with similar places at precisely the same time -- for example, looking at Turkey, Poland, and the "sick man of Europe" Ottoman Empire as inspirational cases of what to do/not to do, and how to adapt that to the specific China case.

kdavid: I would check out this site - http://ucsdmodernchinesehistory.org/

(not my school, but I have colleagues there)

In particular the book reviews section includes a ton of intellectual histories: http://ucsdmodernchinesehistory.org/文章-reviews-and-essays/book-reviews/

The stuff by William Rowe sounds right up your alley. I read the Chen Hongmu book, and I used the more old school Schram and Levenson (classics in the construction of the field) when writing my exam statements (I talked about the conception of "Chinese" in eyes of Westerners ETC, which ultimately helped shaped what "Chinese" meant to 20th century Chinese) -- it's difficult to explain, but much of "Chinese" history, in its modern form, emerged from some of this earlier (WWII or Cold War based) scholarship. What I mean is that dynastic histories of a Zhongguo state/emperor existed for years (a la Sima Qian), but that until the 20th century, the "history of China" did not exist in the form we think of it today. I don't really want to expand on this at 1:30 in the morning, but I hope you get the general idea...

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amandagmu

Also, gato - it's literally impossible to become a historian and "not get caught up" in these debates... after all, history is not just "facts" but a constant interpretation based largely on the present and one's own framework.... :) (and that includes things written in either language!)

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amandagmu

Oh, and on the anti-colonialism and Chiang: probably for two reasons: because it fits well with the Maoist anti-colonialist rhetoric, and because Chiang was a fairly corrupt official who collaborated with and took money/support from the Americans throughout the Nationalist/GMD period. Chiang's rule has been noted as closer to fascism than socialism or communism, but at 2AM I can't tell you more in a coherent fashion. I'm going to bed.

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